Category: Greek Island tours & excursions (page 1 of 4)

Visiting Delos in 2017

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This short video includes aerial views of Delos island, film of the excursion boats that ferry visitors between Mykonos and Delos and, at the 1:39 mark of the clip,  a schedule of boat trips and prices for tickets and guided tours in 2017

 

Time changes: If you’re visiting Mykonos this summer and hope to take a daytrip to explore the historic ruins and museum at nearby Delos island, take note there has been a slight change to the time excursion boats will return from Delos in the evening during 2017. The last boat back to Mykonos will now depart Delos at 7:30 p.m., a half hour earlier than last year.  

That’s the only significant change (so far, at least) to the information provided in my Visiting Delos in 2016 blog post. Prices for the boat rides remain at €20 per adult and €10 for children aged 6 to 12. Kids under 6 can still ride for free. 

Guided half-day tours still cost €50 per adult and €25 per child between 6 and 12 years of age. There is no charge for kids under 6 to join the  guided tours, which are available from May 2 until the end of October.

 

 

The ferry ticket and tour prices do not include the government-imposed fee for admission to the Delos archaeological site, which is €12 per person again this year, and which is payable at the entrance gate on the island.

For full details about Delos excursions from Mykonos, consult the website for Delos Tours — the company that operates the boat service between the islands.

For photos and information about what you can see and do on Delos, check out my previous articles about daytrips to the island

In the meantime, take a look below at the three videos I have posted to inform and inspire you prior to your Delos visit.

 

This 2.5-minute clip, flimed by www.sky-net.co.uk, shows drone views of the Delos archaeological site

 

This 6-minute film, by sitesandphotosvideo, offers an overview of some of the most significant sites on Delos

 

Learn more about Delos and its fascinating history in this beautifully-filmed 23-minute video by Andonis Kioukas

 

Quietly spectacular Skyros

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Enjoy aerial views of some of the wonderful coastal, mountain, valley and village scenery on Skyros in this 5-minute film by TreeZone

 

Real deal: Want to visit an authentic Greek island that isn’t a mainstream tourist magnet like Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini, or even its nearby neighbour, Skiathos? Then have a look at Skyros, the southernmost and largest island in the Sporades archipelago. Skyros has everything you would want and expect from a great Greek island holiday destination — impressive landscapes and coastal scenery, inviting beaches, picturesque villages, historic sites, good food, and age-old local traditions — without the massive crowds and commerciality of other islands that have become household names around the world.

Though it is becoming increasingly popular with visitors from around the world, and has an international airport that receives direct charter flights from several European cities during July and August, Skyros is a relatively low-profile destination that isn’t even on the radar for most tourists planning vacations in the Greek islands.

In fact, there were only 3 question-and-answer threads posted on TripAdvisor’s Skyros travel forum in all of 2015, and just 10 in total since 2010. The Skiathos forum, by comparison, had  more than 6,100 conversation threads as of mid-May 2016.

 

 

 

With so much going for the island, It’s rather surprising that Skyros doesn’t get more attention from travellers — especially considering that it gets good press whenever it’s mentioned in social and regular media.

For instance, Skyros was cited as the best destination for alternative travel and holistic holidays in The Telegraph’s January 2016 feature The 19 best Greek islands, and was included in a piece the Independent published about Holidays for single travellers. Also in January, The Irish Examiner published A letter from paradise on the Greek island of Skyros, a journalist’s account of her writing holiday. And in 2015, Thomas Cook Airlines named Skyros as best destination for “healthy lifestyle holidays” in its profile of Greece’s top 10 islands.

Perhaps it’s a good thing Skyros hasn’t become hugely popular — that means it will remain a unique and special place to charm and delight those travellers who do venture off the main tourist paths to pay it a visit. (And that’s one of the chief reasons why Skyros is on my bucket list of islands to see.)

Skyros photo from sail-la-vie.com

Built on the steep slopes of a craggy peak topped by a Byzantine fortress and a  monastery, Chora village is a striking sight on Skyros (Photo from the Municipality of Skyros travel guide)

 

Please continue reading on page 2, where you’ll find more pictures and videos along with links to more than a dozen different websites with Skyros travel information and photos.

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Daytripping from Mykonos to Tinos

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You can enjoy whirlwind visits to Mykonos and Tinos in this fun hyperlapse video by Alex Baker Photography

 

Easy excursion: People planning trips to Mykonos frequently ask me if it’s possible to visit other islands for either all or part of a day. It certainly is!

Each year, in fact, tens of thousands of people make the short half-day trip from Mykonos to Delos, an uninhabited isle which is one of the most significant historic and archaeological sites in all of Greece. (See my recent post Visiting Delos in 2016 for information about the many different ways to get there.)

The next easiest getaway for a day is to Tinos, which can be reached either by regular ferry service from Mykonos, or on tours organized by excursion companies. Unlike hip Mykonos, which is one of the most contemporary and “touristy” destinations in Greece, Tinos offers a more authentic Greek island atmosphere and visitor experience.

Tom DeBelfore photo of Tripotamos village on Tinos island

Tripotamos, one of 40 traditional villages on Tinos, is seen in a Tom DeBelfore photo from the Tinos, Kykladen/ Τήνος, Κυκλάδες page on Facebook. There’s nothing even remotely comparable to these villages on Mykonos.

 

Mykonos is popular primarily for its beaches, its sophisticated hotels, bars, restaurants and nightlife, its picturesque Mykonos Town commercial center, and its legendary status as one of the leading holiday and party destinations for the international “jet set” since the 1960s.

Tinos has excellent beaches, bars and restaurants, too, but it also boasts sights and features you won’t find anywhere on Mykonos, including fabulous mountain scenery, dozens of traditional villages and settlements, thousands of dovecotes, and the Church of Panagia Evaggelistria, the country’s most-visited Greek Orthodox pilgrimage shrine.  An important center for religion with a long history of marble carving and stone artwork, Tinos gives visitors the opportunity to see a traditional side of Greece that’s almost impossible to find amidst the glitz and glamour of the designer boutiques, trendy nightclubs and posh resorts that abound on Mykonos.

Our Lady of Tinos church

The Church of Panagia Evaggelistria (Our Lady of Tinos) is visited each year by thousands of tourists and Greek Orthodox pilgrims. This photo of the church appeared on the Facebook page for the local TINOS About magazine.

 

Because of their sharply contrasting attributes and attractions, the two islands might seem worlds apart. But since they’re separated by just a short ferry ride across a narrow channel, a daytrip to Tinos would nicely complement a longer stay on Mykonos (or vice versa).

So how can you get to Tinos? If you’re not comfortable arranging your own itinerary, drop into travel agencies or ferry ticket offices in Mykonos Town to inquire about times and prices for guided tours that might be available during your holiday. When you purchase tickets, make certain to ask where you catch your ferry — Mykonos has two ports! (The Old Port is right at Mykonos Town, while the New Port is located over 2 kilometers from town at Tourlos.)

If you would prefer to see Tinos independently, check with the Mykonos ferry ticket agencies for boat schedules on the particular day you’d like to do your daytrip. For years, the Theologos P car and passenger ferry has offered the most reliable and convenient round-trip ferry service between the two islands, with breakfast-time departures and mid-evening returns. Theologos P typically departs the Mykonos New Port around 7:35 a.m., arriving at Tinos Town 30 minutes later. You’ll be able to enjoy a full day of sightseeing and even dinner at a local taverna before sailing back to Mykonos on Theologos P’s 9:35 p.m. return voyage to Mykonos (it reaches the Mykonos New Port shortly past 10 p.m.).

 

 

Several other ferries operate between Mykonos and Tinos, but their later departures and earlier returns allow only a few hours on Tinos.  That’s still enough time to take a walk around Tinos Town and visit the island’s world-famous Our Lady of Tinos Church. But after getting to see Tinos for just three hours on our last vacation (see my previous post Our brief intro to Tinos for photos), we strongly recommend arranging as much time on the island as possible.

Friends who have done numerous daytrips say that by catching the Theologos P in the morning, they can take a taxi or bus to one of the mountain villages above Tinos Town, hike back down and spend a few hours sightseeing and having dinner in town. The return trip of Theologos P gets them back to Mykonos while the night is still young. Another possibility, they say, is to rent a car at Tinos Town and spend the day driving around to see some of the 40 villages, thousands of dovecotes and hundreds of chapels scattered across the island’s hills and mountainsides.

Dovecote on Tinos island

Thousands of impressive dovecotes can be spotted all over Tinos. This particular dovecote was renovated and converted into a private residence. (Photo from the tinos-tinos.com travel information website.)

 

If you want to get an idea of what Tinos is like (and also Mykonos, if you haven’t been there yet, either), watch the Hyperlapsing Tinos and Mykonos video that I posted at the top of this article. The 6.5-minute film will give you a speedy tour through the lanes and alleys of Tinos Town and Mykonos Town, and will take you to other parts of each island as well. It even shows some of the coastal scenery you’ll see on both islands during the ferry ride.

You can see more of Tinos in the video Tinos Greece 2015, below. It’s actually a slideshow presentation of photographs that YouTube contributor Lusko18 shot at numerous different locations on the island last year. 

 

This is a 5-minute slideshow of photographs shot by Lusko18 during a trip to Tinos in 2015

Visiting Delos in 2016

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 Delos island photo by Delos Tours

The “sacred island” of Delos is seen in a photo from the Google+ page for Delos Tours, the firm that runs ferries between Mykonos and Delos. 

 

Delos daytripping: It has been nearly two years since I last wrote about Delos island, and because there have been some noteworthy price changes for 2016, I’ve written this general information article to update my series of Top Delos Posts published from 2012 to 2014. (Apart from ferry schedules and the new prices for ferry tickets and admission to the Delos archaeological site, the information in my previous posts remains current.)

 

 What is Delos?

Here’s a brief background for readers who might not be familiar with Delos. The island, situated just over 2 km west of Mykonos, is one of the most important historic and archaeological sites in Greece. It’s often called “the sacred island” and “the island of light” because, in Greek mythology, it was the birthplace of Apollo, the god of light, and Artemis, the goddess of night light.

During its glory days between 166 BC and 69 BC, Delos was a wealthy shipping hub and one of the world’s leading centers of commerce. Home to more than 30,000 people, the city went into decline after it was looted and razed in two separate attacks; residents gradually left the island, and eventually Delos was abandoned completely and almost forgotten.

 

Delos island

The ruins of the Quarter of the Theater and the island’s once-great commercial port sprawl across the lower slopes of Mt Kynthos on Delos

 

Delos regained international attention when archaeologists began excavating its ruins in 1872. Small numbers of travellers, mainly from Europe, started visiting the island to view the fascinating historic sites that were gradually being unearthed. Over the decades, the trickle of tourists turned into a steady stream of sightseers from around the world, and today Delos is a top tourist attraction drawing more than 100,000 visitors each year. Delos is widely considered a “must see” attraction for people visiting Mykonos, and I personally recommend that visitors schedule a half-day trip to Delos during their Mykonos holidays, especially if it’s their first visit to Greece.

In 1990, Delos was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. A description for UNESCO’s Delos listing says “The archaeological site is exceptionally extensive and rich and conveys the image of a great cosmopolitan Mediterranean port.”

And according to the Delos page on Visit Greece, the official tourism website for Greece, “nowhere else in the Globe is there a natural insular archaeological site of this size and importance. No other island on Earth hosts so many monumental antiquities from the Archaic, the Classical, and the Hellenistic periods, i.e. the centuries of the great Greek art, on a territory used exclusively as an archaeological site.”

 

What’s on Delos?

Delos Terrace of the Lions photo by Bernard Gagnon

The Terrace of the Lions is one of the most popular attractions on Delos island (Photo by Wikimedia contributor Bernard Gagnon)

 

All of Delos is a protected archaeological site, and visitors are not permitted to stay on the island overnight; hence, there are no accommodations (the nearest available lodging is on Mykonos). Besides the extensive ruins, which extend across most of the island, there is a museum that houses sculptures, wall paintings, pottery and thousands of small artefacts discovered during the excavations. A cafe in a separate building sells beverages and light snacks.

Some of the antiquities and sights most popular with tourists include: spectacular floor mosaics in the House of Dionysos, the House of the Dolphins, the House of the Mask, and the House of the Tritons; a marble amphitheater; several different agoras, sanctuaries and temples; the Sacred Lake and the Terrace of the Lions.

 

Delos Tours photo of mosaic in the House of the Dolphins on Delos

A detail of one of the colourful mosaics in the House of the Dolphins (Photo from the Delos Tours website.)

 

Bernard Gagnon Wikimedia Commons photo of Delos theater

The marble theater, seen in another image by Wikimedia contributor Bernard Gagnon, could seat up to 5,500 spectators

 

You’ll see many of the island’s top sights while a narrator describes the history of Delos in this informative 9.5-minute film by Expoza Travel.

 

Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2, where you’ll find information about Delos ferry ticket and site admission prices, ferry schedules, guided tours, private charters to Delos, and more.

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Milos recasts its magical spell

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Tsigrado beach Milos

With dozens of unique beaches, like the cliff-enclosed Tsigrado cove 

 

Cape Vani on Milos

  an astounding array of natural scenery and rugged terrain, such as the Mars-like landscape at Cape Vani

 

Mandrakia village on Milos

 picturesque seaside fishing villages, like Mandrakia

 

Kleftiko coast at Milos

… spectacular coastal scenery, like the breathtaking cliffs and offshore rock formations at Kleftiko

 

Ageria mine site on Milos

 colourful mining sites, like the Ageria open pit operation 

 

O Xamos restaurant Milos

and superb Greek cuisine served at restaurants like O Xamos!, it’s easy to understand why travel blogger Dace was drawn to Milos two years in a row. (All of the photos in this post are by Dace and originally appeared on her website, Dace Travels. They are reposted here with her kind permission).

 

Well worth repeating: My regular readers know how much I enjoy Milos — I’ve published numerous posts about the island in the last several years, along with dozens of photographs we shot during two separate visits.  I’m always keen to hear and read what other travellers think of it, in particular to see if they had similarly delightful experiences (the feedback has been overwhelmingly laudatory, I’m happy to report). I also like to hear people’s impressions of places they managed to see in parts of Milos we haven’t yet explored ourselves since it gives us ideas about new places to check out next time we go back.

So when I discovered a Milos trip report link in a post on the TripAdvisor Milos forum, I was excited to read what the writer had to say, and to view her holiday photos. Clicking on the link actually was a double treat because it took me to not one but two separate trip reports for Milos, posted by Latvian writer Dace on her personal blog, Dace Travels.  

 

 

I was very pleased to find that both reports were packed with gorgeous photos and enticing descriptions of numerous Milos destinations that we haven’t yet seen (in large part because we haven’t rented a vehicle on either of our trips to the island, so we’ve been limited to what we could access by bus, taxi or walking, and couldn’t reach many of the remote areas that Dace drove to in her 4×4.)

In her first post, Greece: The beauty of Milos, Dace explains that she chose Milos after reading about it on a “hidden gem” list for Greece. 

“What a great choice it was!,” she wrote. “The island has 70 different beaches, it’s not overcrowded by tourists; the western part is more wild while the eastern part is more developed. We spent 6 days there but it was not enough.”  But in those six days, she saw a variety of places I’ve only read about in online travel guides — Thiafes beach, Tria Pighadia, Kolymbissionas, Amoudaraki and Manddrakia.

 

Spellbinding nature, beaches and good food

In her second report, Greece again. Yes to Milos!, Dace reveals why she returned to Milos for another holiday. “So why Milos again? It really got its spell on us, so much of beautiful nature and beaches and good food :),” she wrote.  (I totally understand; the exact same features drew us back to Milos for our own second visit.)

Once more, Dace posted lots of beautiful photos and descriptions of even more amazing places I haven’t seen, leaving me feeling a strong tinge of envy. Those spots included Cape Vani, Voudia Bay, Pollonia, and a slew of splendid beaches — Angathia, Agios Ioannis, Triades, Firiplaka, Paleochori, Plateina, Agio Kyriaki and Tsigrado. 

Both reports are fascinating and fun to read. Dace has a great sense of humour, so I chuckled at some of her stories (like the “quad people” they encountered at some beaches) and cringed at another (her account of a stomach-churning ferry ride to Milos).  And of course there’s dozens of photos of stunning Milos scenery that are bound to make you dream about going there yourself.

Click here to read Dace’s first report, and then click here to read about her return visit. (The second report includes photos and information about her stay in Athens, too, and elsewhere on her blog you can read about her trip to Santorini.)

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